By Kelly Bradham
Former Sports Editor Nevada Daily Mail
Griffons is a natural nickname for a Nevada baseball team when you realize that it’s a combination of Griffith and Lyons, Nevada’s two well-known big league baseball players.
Clark C. Griffith began his life here and saw it end somewhere else. George Lyons began his life somewhere else and closed it here. Somewhere between, both realized the ultimate dream of pitching in the major leagues. And also in between, their paths crossed.
Lyons pitched for the St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals, and spent some time on the rosters of other big league teams.
Griffith won enough games in the majors to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He, along with Ban Johnson, founded the American League.
After retiring from professional baseball, Lyons spent a great deal of time working with the game on a local level, as evidenced by the fact that George Lyons Stadium bears his name.
Lyons had a great love for baseball, and until his death in 1981, could spend countless hours talking about the legends of the game. His idol was teammate George Sisler, about whom he knew a great deal. Lyons could tell personal stories of confrontations with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and other immortals of the game’s most colorful period.
The Griffith family left Vernon County before the turn-of-the-century, but Clark never forgot the friends he made here in his childhood. The family would probably have stayed in Vernon County, but for two unfortunate matters. First, his father was killed in a hunting accident. Later, a malaria epidemic swept the county. His mother, left alone to rear her children, feared both for their health and the marauders who lurked about in an area still reeling from the ravages of war.
One of Clark Griffith’s favorite memories was of unsaddling a horse, doing some grooming, then re-saddling the horse for a tired, friendly young man, who rested, paid the youngster in gold for his efforts, then rode off into history. The man’s name? Jesse James!
Griffith went on to win 240 games in the majors. With his pitching career on the wane, Griffith joined with Johnson and Charles Comiskey to co-found the American League. As manager of the Chicago White Sox he won the first pennant in American League history in 1901.
In 1903 he moved to Washington in 1912, where he bought into the Senators franchise. He managed the Senators until 1920 when he moved full-time into the front office, remaining as owner until his death in 1955 after a 64-year big league career.
In the meantime, Clark legally adopted his nephew, Calvin, who took over the club and moved it to Minnesota in 1961. Calvin sold the club to Minneapolis interests last summer, thus ending 72 years of family ownership.
Lyons bought a farm west of Nevada in the early 1920s, married locally and moved into town after getting married in 1929. His wife, Leota, survives.
He was the driving force and designer of Lyons Stadium and was active in local baseball for more than 25 years. Lyons was a local merchant and served a term as county treasurer.
His health began to deteriorate in the mid 1970s and he died in 1981 at the age of 90.